Q&A With Upload’s Founder – Stuart Jones
What did you do before starting Upload?
I had a very varied career, I left school at 16 and joined the Army within 3 months of finishing my GCSE’s. I left the Army several years later and bounced around from job to job in various industries.
How did Upload come to be?
My background is previously being Head of Sales for the Insomnia Gaming Festival – it was in that role that I got to know the biggest YouTube superstars in the UK, who I booked to come to the Festival. Off the back of a meeting with The Sidemen in Los Angeles in 2015, they said they were looking for someone to help them with their day to day management and so Upload Agency was born, Upload Agency was the business management team for one of the biggest YouTube groups in the world, The Sidemen and since then have gone on to become the leading talent management agency in the UK, looking after some of the biggest YouTubers and Social Media stars in the world, including The Sidemen, Beta Squad, Chunkz, Calfreezy and many more.
What was your vision when founding Upload?
When working with various YouTubers at the Insomnia Gaming Festival, it became apparent that many of them did not have any management whatsoever, despite their huge audiences. I saw a gap in the market for an agency that worked with creators to help develop their brand and look after their business interests, which prompted me to form Upload.
Did you have any challenges along the way?
There are always challenges with Talent Management. It’s a fast-moving industry and there are lots of people out there trying to get in the way.
Did you always want/plan to start a talent agency?
After speaking with many YouTubers, it was clear that there was a lack of representation for online talent, which was still a relatively new industry. Many YouTubers were becoming extremely famous from simply creating videos playing FIFA in their bedroom and I thought they would benefit from the guidance of someone experienced in dealing with brands and commercial opportunities.
Did you always plan on opening a merchandise or printing business or was there a natural opportunity to start them whilst working on Upload Agency?
Upload Merchandise was formed in 2016 off the back of our talent in the Agency side of the business. As our talent were gaining millions of followers, they became interested in creating their own merchandise to sell to their fans. It got to the point that we were ordering printed hoodies and t-shirts from printing companies most weeks – it was at that point that there was a huge demand for this and we would be better to invest in our own machinery, warehouse and skilled staff, which is where we are today. We are now producing and shipping 100,000 items a year globally. We have invested in several hundred thousand pounds worth of state of the art machinery over the years and in 2020, we made the decision to increase our offering to consumers in the local area and nationally, opening a High Street shop in Romsey, as well as being in the process of launching our new website, which will allow customers to design their own merchandise and purchase it all online.
What does a day in your life look like?
The Upload Group of companies is varied, the day to day still revolves around managing our talent, whether that be negotiating their commercial sponsorships and endorsements, helping them develop their merchandise range or assisting them with creating content and collaborations. We also have created and managed many events over the years, including Sidemen FC v YouTube Allstars, KSI v Joe Weller and probably most notably, KSI v Logan Paul – so there’s always something going on!